Annihilator by Grant Morrison and Frazer Irving for Legendary. A different spin on Morrison’s old “meeting one’s author” trope, this 6-issue mini-series is about art house scriptwriter Ray Spass who is visited by the character he’s writing, a sci-fi anti-hero called Max Nomax. Is he, as Max claims, simply remembering Max’s life thanks to a date upload, or is he hallucinating from a brain tumor? Switching back and forth between a drug-fueled Hollywood insider story/conspiracy and a crazy sci-fi epic about escaping a prison orbiting a black hole, Annihilator has just the right touch of literary madness Morrison fans want, while still telling a coherent and accessible story, which Morrison detractors often claim is missing from his work. Irving’s distinctive painted art is rich and atmospheric, and slightly surreal to go with the mind-bending nature of the story.
Recommended? I’ve been a fan of Morrison’s work since the old days, but some of his more recent one-off projects have left me cold. Annihilator is a return to form that should please the discerning reader.
The Bigger Bang by D.J. Kirkbride and Vassilis Gogtzilas for IDW. The scale is epic, as a very entertaining text piece reveals in the beginning. Earth is dead. One cosmic superhero fights on. Crazy concepts at the ready. It’s got the makings of something fun. Mike Allred makes a fine spokesperson for it (on the cover) because the subject is treated not unlike his Silver Surfer. The big hurdle readers may have to vault over is the art. Gogtzilas basically doodles with a technical pen, with the occasional charcoal or painted effect, then computer colorizes these drawings so as to make sense of them. They are very, very, VERY sketchy. But does that make them bad? No. They’re still dynamic and manage beauty as well as the grotesque. It may be an acquired taste, and the colors are perhaps a bit too dingy, but it’s definitely got some raw energy.
Recommended? Not for everyone, presumably, but if you have an open mind about the art, it could prove an interesting and quirky project.
Edward Scissorhands by Kate Leth and Drew Rausch for IDW. At this point in time, exploiting the Edward Scissorhands license seems a little odd, but its Tim-Burtoniness is well-suited to cartoon graphics, and Rausch manages to pay tribute to some of Burton’s other works as Easter eggs. The story takes place after the events of the film and Kim’s death. The granddaughter is now the protagonist and the only one who’s interested in Edward, who hasn’t come down from the mountain in decades. He’ll have to, though, after he awakens another creation, a boy robot with killer claws. Ok, that sounds like all sorts of wrong, but the creature seems sweet and simply misguided. I mean, it doesn’t kill anyone, but the threat is there. The comic plays out with lots of silent pages, especially in Edward’s castle, but your eye wants to linger on the details in each panel. The cover isn’t representative of it.
Recommended? Fans of the classic film should definitely check it out. Others won’t find the experience unpleasant.
Fiction Squad by Paul Jenkins and Ramon Bachs for Boom! It takes a lot of guts to poach Fables’ basic premise, but everyone’s doing it. Free public domain characters, yay! So there’s Once Upon a Time on TV and apparently, the Facebook game Fablewood. Fiction Squad is “from the world of Fablewood”, which is the only reason I researched it. But if it’s all public domain anyway, why connect it to a licensed property? It could have stood on its own. Good title, fun-looking art, and a noir mystery told in 6 issues. The comic proposes a world where all of fiction’s characters are represented, in realms divided by genre. Our gumshoe hero, an obscure detective who knew he’d never get a sequel, crossed over into the land of nursery rhymes and fairy tales to help solve crimes there. Jenkins and Bachs fill the page with references to every song you ever skipped to when you were a kid, and then some. My only real complaint is that the art turns into cheesecake with some of the fairy tale girls, as if Dorothy and Alice are members of Danger Girl or something. But a small problem in what is otherwise a very cool take on public domain characters.
Recommended? Yes, ignore the Fablewood connection. I’d even like to see follow-ups that take place in other realms.
George Pérez’s Sirens by George Perez for Boom! Perez develops a team of female adventurers spread out across space and time (and dimensions?) in this slow-to-release 6-issue mini-series, a chance for him to draw people and things from across all genres, which is surely a plus. Space opera, western, gladiators, Norse fantasy, 50s suburbia… And it looks like there are more to come. The Sirens are rebels in a universe whose destiny is controlled by various alien factions, coming together after their leader’s escape. The members introduced in the first issue are written as distinct characters and get enough panel-time to show their stuff, though the focus cycles through them a little quickly. One would be justified to wonder how any of them will manage to grow and develop in a mere six issues, while sharing the page with so many others. Presumably, Perez has more mini-series in mind if the Sirens catch on. The star of the book is definitely the art – I’m not sure there are that many fans of Perez’ WRITING as such – and though some of his lines are thicker than they used to be, it’s got the same intricate quality it’s always had. Not his strongest work, but then the bar is set quite high.
Recommended? Felt a little cluttered for my tastes – with a LOT of dialog layered on as well – but if you like genre mash-ups, Sirens has something to offer in a relatively-brief 6-issues-and-done.
Sinergy by Michael Avon Oeming for Image. A Buffyesque idea in several ways, Sinergy is about Jess, a girl who loses her virginity and becomes a “woman”, except being an adult in her family means she becomes a Seer, with the power to see monsters and the duty to fight them. And her boyfriend is a monster. Sex really does ruin everything, doesn’t it? Our protagonist would rather play hockey, if it’s all the same, but her dad needs her to join him in the family business. Throw in a talking monster dog and the stars soon aligning to allow more monsters access to our reality, and you’ve got a pretty cool set-up. I do question colorist Taki Soma’s use of acid greens and yellows on selected pages’ flesh tones – what does that add? – but Oeming has neat, design-y way to “reveal” the monsters without making the story difficult to follow. A light tone, sure, but very real threats nonetheless. Very Buffy indeed.
Recommended? It may be somewhat derivative, but it has its own voice, and Jess is certainly a character I’d care to read about regularly.
Wild’s End by Dan Abnett and I.N.J. Culbard for Boom! So this exact creative team is responsible for Dark Horse’s Dark Ages, which is about an alien invasion in a Medieval context, and this series is an alien invasion in an English village populated by Edwardian anthropomorphic animals. Huh. Are they going to do one of these for every publisher? That said, I like Wild’s End better than I did Dark Ages. Where that other series was skewed towards premise over character development, Wild’s End is much more about characters and their personalities, with the aliens as faceless robots evoking War of the Worlds. So much so, I was surprised when they started dying. Despite the book’s cartoon animal aesthetic, it doesn’t take any prisoners. I quite like the alien machines as well, a simple and streamlined steampunk idea, but it’s still a slightly awkward mash-up. But then, that might be the point. Extra points for some fun maps and in-universe documents at the back of each issue. Nice flavor.
Recommended? I don’t know that Abnett and Culbard have found a perfect fantersection (can I coin a word? I just did), but the animals are simply people (as in Maus, not that I’m drawing a comparison), an art choice. So if you’d like to read an Edwardian village under siege story, it shouldn’t matter what the character designs look like.
When next we speak of this… Some of December’s new releases!
Despite Siskoid’s heavy consumption of indie books, he nevertheless seems to waste a lot of virtual ink on Superman.